The Syrian conflict moved one step closer to all out war between the US and Syria/Iran/Russia as the US led coalition shot down a Syrian government Su-22 fighter near the town of Tabqa as it was caught bombing Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces. The SDF was fighting ISIS in the area in preparation for its upcoming battle to take Raqqa.
The mission creep pushed by the American government is clear to everyone at this point. What is not clear is whether the Trump administration is willing to put more than special forces on the ground.
The following three points should be looked out for in the coming week in reaction to the Coalition’s downing of the Syrian warplane:
- Retaliation against the US and Jordanian forces now in the South-East of Syria
- Hezbollah Attack on Israel
- Russian aiding Syria against the SDF and YPG in the North
The Trump administration’s policy is to use local forces to fight its ground wars while providing logistics and air support. In the expanded Syrian war the world is now entering, this may not be an option anymore. For example, Israel has been slowly creating a buffer zone East of the Golan, but as Southern Syria falls to government troops, Israel may not be able to hold off from entering the war in a more direct manner.
Trump’s plan seems to have one foot in and one foot out of Syria. That works when towing the line between the semi-isolationist stance he took when running and the need to have an effect on the outcome of the war. However, Russia and Iran are not holding back and it is not clear for how long the YPG/SDF as well as Israel’s allies close to the Golan can hold them back.
The downing of the Syrian jet maybe the first response to the growing Russian/Syrian/Iranian juggernaut.